Studies show that 92 percent of Americans believe an attractive smile is an important social asset, yet 50 percent are not satisfied with the appearance of their own smile. Why the discrepancy? Maybe it’s that people don’t realize how easy, painless, and affordable it is to enhance their smile. Or maybe they don’t realize that improving their smile not only improves their appearance, but can also boost their self-esteem and confidence, which can carry over and impact their personal and professional life. A smile, after all, can be a very important social asset.
In the following pages we highlight some of the best local dentists who are—quite literally—giving their patients a reason to smile.
Current research shows that gum disease (periodontal disease) can be a precursor for other systemic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems and premature birth. In addition, these systemic diseases can themselves make someone more susceptible to periodontal diseases. People 55 and older have higher rates of gum disease, however it can also affect people in their 20s and 30s. Therefore, it is important to be vigilant about preventing gum disease and being cognizant of warning signs of the disease:
• Gums that are red or swollen, tender or bleed easily.
• Gums that have pulled away from the teeth.
• Persistent bad breath or bad taste.
• Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
• Any change in the fit of dentures or bridges.
• Permanent teeth that are loose or separating.
Whether or not you have these warning signs, regular dental checkups and periodontal exams are important. Preventive care, including regular brushing, flossing and dental exams can keep your gums healthy. And if early stages of gum disease are detected, treatments are available to help stop the progression.
To learn more about oral health and the body’s overall health, visit the Minnesota Dental Association web site at www.mndental.org.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting more children than asthma. However, with advances in preventive dentistry today, there’s a lot we can do to ensure children maintain healthy smiles and very possibly grow up without decay or gum disease.
Sealants are transparent adhesives applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – premolars and molars – which are particularly prone to decay. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. Although brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas and, as long as the sealant remains intact, will prevent decay.
Mouth protectors should be used by children when playing sports that carry a significant risk of injury. This includes a wide range of sports like football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and volleyball. Mouth protectors, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to soft tissues of the mouth.
A proper diet is extremely important for both oral health and overall general health. Excessive sugar intake is one of the biggest problems in people’s diets, and can lead to childhood obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. Frequent sipping of soda pop, including the growing popularity of energy drinks, is of particular concern. Both regular and diet pop can cause erosion of tooth enamel and decay, so should be eliminated or consumed in moderation.
For more information on oral disease prevention, visit the Minnesota Dental Association web site at www.mndental.org.